When I heard that Francis Ford Coppola conceived his “wine wonderland” from a sketch he made on the back of a cocktail napkin, it didn’t surprise me.
This visionary, Academy Award-winning filmmaker — and award-winning winemaker — continually reinvents himself. This time it is with Winery Park, an outdoor recreation-and-wine facility located in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. Featuring two swimming pools, bocce courts, gaming tables, tasting room, fine-dining restaurant, casual poolside cafe, large teepee for kids, performing arts pavilion and private “cabines” (European-style personal changing rooms, pronounced “ka-beens”), the family-friendly destination open all summer. Marking its second year of operation, the park has a few new perks worth noting.
Inspired by the children who play around the fountain at Coppola’s Napa Valley winery at Inglenook — many pleading with their parents to jump in — Coppola planned his park around two large swimming pools. Located in the center of the park area, the pools, which total 3,600 square feet, are connected by a swim-through, at which small jets create a water bridge to swim under. Chaise lounges and a large sunbathing terrace surround the pools.
Behind the pools and terrace are 28 cabines, available to rent for a day. Each features a private shower, and rental ($100 per day) includes pool use and towels. Since they all look alike, the park sells nautical “family” flags, which visitors can hoist above their cabines during visits to the winery.
If a cabine is not needed for your visit, guests can opt to purchase a pool pass for a day ($20 per adult; $10 per kid). For a better value, the park this season is launching a new daylong cabine package ($125), which includes four pool passes, four reserved lounge chairs and the use of four towels, as well as two complimentary wine tasting flights and two water bottles.
Also new for this season: guests can sign up for swimming lessons. Offered only during the early morning, group or private classes will be available during July and August.
With more than 40 wines produced on-site, visitors can tour the winemaking facility or partake in a wine-tasting experience. New this year, Tasting in the Dark is a two-hour wine tasting that explores how flavors in wine are accentuated when they are experienced in complete darkness. This sensory tasting experience will take place June 16, July 22 and Aug. 11. Reservations are required.
For kids, the park is also launching a smoothie-tasting experience this summer.
The park also offers film lovers a peak at Coppola’s collection of authentic movie memorabilia. Highlights include Don Corleone’s desk from “The Godfather,” the original automobile from “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” rotating on a showroom turntable, and original shooting scripts, stills and movie posters.
If you go
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Winery Park is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Sept. 30.
The park is located at 300 Via Archimedes in Geyserville, approximately 75 miles north of San Francisco
For more information, visit www.franciscoppolawinery.com or call (707) 857-1471
Bottling Ballet Mecanique tasting experience
$20 per person
Named for the little dance wine bottles do while moving across the bottling line, this one-hour tour will give visitors a sneak peek at Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s state-of-the-art bottling facility. Available daily at 11:30 a.m., 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m., the tour includes tastings of four wines. For more information, visit www.franciscoppolawinery.com/visit/taste-and-tour/tour.
Encouraging a safe environment, Francis Ford Coppola Winery works with four car services to help visitors plan their visit. Recommended car services include: Beau Wine Tours, BeauTours.com; Pure Luxury Transportation, PureLuxury.com; Sonoma Sterling Limousines, Sonoma SterlingLimo.com; and California Wine Tours, CharterVehicles.com. When you book a service, mention that you will be visiting Francis Ford Coppola Winery to inquire about discounts available.